The constant low thrum of SAM was gone. Sara was alone in her head for the first time in months and she ached with it. SAM had become a part of her over the time she’d been Pathfinder, and the Archon had him. And he had Scott.
“Kallo, we need more speed, I want us right alongside the Hyperion,” Sara snapped and she leaned more heavily against the railings.
“Thrusters are at max, Ryder, I can’t take us faster than this,” Kallo said with his usual calm as his hands darted over the console in front of him.
Sara shouted in frustration and punched the console for the cluster map. She regretted it immediately, holding her fist against her chest. She felt Cora’s hand on her back and sobbed suddenly as the other woman pulled her into a tight hug.
“We’re going to get him back, Pathfinder,” Cora promised, their armour preventing the closeness they both needed but it was better than nothing.
“I’m not losing him too,” Ryder said with a growl as she pulled away from Cora and looked out the window.
Cora reached past her for the ship-wide comm buttons. “Bridge to engineering, how are we holding?”
There was silence for a fraction of a second before Gil responded. “We are green for now. Thrusters are nominal even if Kallo drives like a jilted bride on her way to murder the groom,” he said.
With a slight laugh at Kallo’s indignant noise of denial, Cora said, “If you can leave engineering for a couple minutes, we need you up here, Gil.”
“On my way,” was Gil’s simple reply.
Sara stood and stared out into space. Still no Ark in sight but they were catching up according to the sensors. They had no accurate readings without SAM but Suvi was good. No SAM but she was the best. Jaal said Evfra was rallying the Resistance and flying as fast as FTL could take them. Drack said Morda was readying the krogan. Liam said the colonies were joining in where they could. They were as ready as they could be in a situation like this, but all she felt was the solemn ache in her head where SAM had been, and the hole in her heart where Scott usually sat. She hadn’t been able to vidcon Reyes before they’d started pursuit. She might die – again – without saying goodbye to him
Someone said her name and she came back to the present to find Gil stood beside her.
“This spot is for Pathfinders only,” she found herself saying and Gil grinned.
“Not even the Pathfinder’s best friend?” he asked, taking hold of her hand tightly. “Chin up, Sara. We’re going to get him back. Both of them. And everyone else on that Ark. But they need you to focus. Okay? We can’t go get your hunk of a brother without you on top form.”
Sara laughed softly, even if it was cut off with a hiccup of a sob. “I’ve lost everyone, I can’t lose him too.”
“You haven’t lost everyone. You’ve got us. But we need you too. Besides, who’s going to be auntie Pathfinder if you lose your head, huh?”
With a slight nod, Sara took a shaky breath and smiled. “Thanks, Gil.”
“No problem. Now, I’d best go make sure the ship isn’t going to blow up,” Gil said, squeezing her hand before he left.
Sara turned back to the window and looked out into space for a few seconds. “Right. Let’s go get our people back.”
Meridian was beautiful, but Ryder couldn’t pause to appreciate it. She had her helmet on now and knew the others were waiting by the Nomad for drop. Cora and Drack were coming with her but she didn’t doubt everyone else would be kitted out in case they were needed.
“Engineering, this is bridge, are we ready for drop?” Sara asked, eyes darting around them for a good place to drop the Nomad.
“Bridge, we are ready. Just waiting for a suitable spot and the Pathfinder,” Gil said over comm.
“Pathfinder is en route,” Sara said before she closed the connection and grabbed her shotgun. “Bridge is yours, Kallo. Stay safe. Suvi, keep eyes on the Archon.”
“Aye, Sara,” Suvi said with a nod. “Good luck.”
As Ryder walked, she took stock of her equipment. Incendiary ammo, disruptor ammo, shield capacitors, pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, asari sword. She had everything. But she didn’t feel ready. Even as she quickly hugged Peebee on the way, even as she climbed into the Nomad with Cora and Drack, she didn’t feel ready. They didn’t have enough firepower with just the Remnant, and though the Resistance wasn’t far behind, they had almost half a cluster to travel. She didn’t know if they would get there in time.
“Approaching drop zone in 3,” Suvi’s voice said over comms.
Sara braced and took a deep breath. There were a few long moments of weightlessness before the Nomad crashed into the ground and almost gave her whiplash.
“Shit, kid, we gotta stop doing this,” Drack groaned from the back.
Sara didn’t reply and started driving.
“Archon is heading north-north-east, you’ll have to go round slightly. It’s almost vertical,” Suvi said.
“That hasn’t stopped Ryder before!” Liam laughed.
“Shut up, Liam, I’m a great driver,” Sara grumbled, manoeuvring the Nomad over the rocks and down the hills to a path that they could take.
“And how many times has Gil had to repair the car?” Liam asked.
“I’m not saying anything,” Gil cut in.
“Tempest, this is Kandros, positioning fleet for support on your mark,” a turian voice said.
“Kandros? You have our Nexus support?” Sara asked. Hopefully with the Nexus fleet was the Resistance fleet, which meant the krogan wouldn’t be far behind.
“Not just Nexus,” an all-too familiar voice purred in her ear over comms.
“Reyes?” Sara breathed, her heart jumping in her chest.
“Of course. You didn’t think I’d miss such a party, did you? And how’s my queen?” Reyes asked. She could hear the cocky grin in his voice. She couldn’t see him, didn’t even know which ship he was on but he was here. He’d come to help them. Help her.
“She died again today,” Gil interrupted.
“Again? I think you’d actually be safer on Kadara, my love,” Reyes said and through the humour, the near-panic was obvious.
“I’m fine. Gil is exaggerating. The Archon-- He-- Reyes, he has Scott.”
“And SAM. I know. We’ll get them back, love. I promise, we’ll save them,” Reyes said firmly. “I haven’t met Scott yet, after all.”
They’d done it. They’d taken Meridian, killed the Archon, saved Scott and SAM was back in her head again. Weeks had passed in a blur of paperwork and meetings and trying not to punch Tann when he’d arrived with Kesh and Addison. Sara had refused to let Scott out of her sight most of the time, which was fine by him considering he spent a lot of time resting. They’d moved into Alec’s room on the Hyperion and slept curled together most of the time. For the first few days, Sara was sure she didn’t sleep at all, instead lying awake at night and clutching onto Scott for fear of losing him again.
Eventually, the meetings began to subside. Or, at the very least, someone pointed out to the directors that Ryder might want some time to celebrate. Probably Kesh. She’d have to find some more booze for her.
This morning, Sara was sat at their father’s computer, scrolling through the logs in the hopes of finding something more about the benefactor or their mother, who remained in stasis a few hundred metres away from where she was sat.
“Sara, you won’t find anything else in there,” Scott said without lifting his head from the pillow.
“No harm in looking.”
“I’m sure your friends miss you. Have you seen any of them since we won?”
“Not really,” Sara admitted reluctantly.
“Go find them. Have a drink. Relax. Stop staring at that bloody thing,” Scott said. He was smiling as he watched her when she turned to look at him.
“Pathfinder, Gil is approaching the door,” SAM cut in before she could wave Scott off. He looked quite smug.
“Just let him in,” Sara said instead, switching off the computer and standing.
“Sometimes I love having an AI around, don’t even have to knock,” Gil said as he strolled in, three glasses and a bottle in his hands. “You goin’ to introduce me to Ryder, Ryder?” He grinned crookedly as he set the glasses and bottle down and started to pour.
“Sure, Gil, make yourself at home,” Sara said with a slight laugh. “Scott, this is Gil. Best engineer this side of dark space. Gil, this is Scott. He doesn’t know when to wake up. Always late to the party.”
Scott rolled his eyes and climbed out of bed, coming over to shake Gil’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“And you. Sara talks about you a lot. She’s missed you. Had to make do with me, haven’t you, princess?” Gil said with a grin at her. Sara huffed a laugh; Gil liked to make fun of anyone who called her the Queen of Kadara, said she was more princess than queen. Gil handed Scott a glass of whatever he’d brought. “Don’t tell Lexi.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Scott said with a grin. “Sara’s not told me much about life on board the Tempest. How long have you two been together?”
Sara choked on the small sip that she’d taken and set the glass down before she dropped it as she coughed. Gil just laughed loudly and patted her on the back to make sure she was alright.
“Oh, no, Sara’s really not my type,” Gil said between fits of laughter. “In fact, you’re much more my type than she is. Speaking of handsome men though, Sara, your lover boy has been moping about in the atrium for a week, please give him some attention. He’s like a lonely puppy.”
Scott had gone a faint pink at the misunderstanding and raised an eyebrow at her. “So there is someone.”
“Oh, yeah there’s definitely someone, isn’t there, Sara?” Gil said. “We had a betting pool about who she’d sleep with first out of our resident turian and angara and then bang she goes and falls in love with someone else.”
“Gil, please,” Sara said as she blushed. “SAM, see if Reyes wants to come over?”
“He is on his way, Sara. I reminded him that you are not alone,” SAM said with that damned tone of amusement.
It was only another few moments before SAM was opening the doors again and Reyes was there with a happy smile on his face.
“Sara,” he said softly and she met him half way across the room before he pulled her into a tight hug, pressing his face into her neck.
“See, I told you. Moping,” Gil said to Scott in a stage whisper.
Sara smiled but ignored him and pulled Reyes into a gentle kiss that she kept chaste with the knowledge her brother was stood behind her.
“I haven’t seen you in weeks,” Reyes said, lifting a hand to stroke her cheek. “Even Keema misses you.”
“That’s their daughter,” Gil said and Sara practically squawked in disbelief.
“Gil! Keema is not our daughter!” she scolded before she turned to Scott. “Keema is not our daughter, she is our friend.”
Gil was laughing openly and even Reyes was chuckling behind her. Scott just looked incredibly confused.
“Stop stirring shit, Gil,” Sara muttered as she went to grab her glass. Turned out to be champagne, which she vaguely remembered Vetra saying she’d try and get. “Right. Proper introductions. Scott, this is Reyes. Reyes, this is Scott.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Reyes told Scott with a smile that made Sara melt a little at the sight of it.
“Yeah, and you. You’re not a member of Sara’s crew, then?” Scott asked him.
“Oh, no, I don’t have the time or the skill required to be a member of our Pathfinder’s crew. I’m a smuggler by trade,” Reyes said, taking the glass when Sara offered it to him. Sara met his eyes as he drank from it and he knew what she was asking. His nod was almost imperceptible but definitely there.
“Reyes is the Charlatan,” Sara said to Scott, watching for his reaction carefully. He knew what the Charlatan was; he’d spent most of his time since waking up catching up on the news. He didn’t react for a few moments before his eyes widened.
“What, the Charlatan?” Scott asked disbelievingly.
Reyes hummed in confirmation. “Keema is the face of Kadara Port but her words are mine. Sara helped me take on Sloane Kelly and divert a civil war,” he said, wrapping his arm around Sara’s waist and pulling her to his side. She went happily, leaning against him. She gave Gil a look and he wisely didn’t say anything about how Reyes had revealed himself to be the Charlatan.
“This is where the whole queen thing comes from. If he’s the king then she’s his queen,” Gil explained. “She’s more princess material though.”
Sara laughed slightly and rolled her eyes, curling her fingers into the back of Reyes’ leather jacket happily.
“You’ll have to come to Kadara sometime, Scott,” Reyes said with a smile. “No one parties like Kadara does. It’s a beautiful planet now the water isn’t poisonous.”
“Kralla’s Song or Tartarus?” Sara asked, chuckling as she looked up at him. His smile softened into something that could only be described as lovesick.
“Whichever you want, my love,” he said quietly before he leaned down to kiss her.